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Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS): What can you do about it?

Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) is when muscle pain or stiffness develops a day or two after playing sports, weightlifting, exercise, or work that involves concentrated physical activity like lifting and carrying objects. DOMS is considered a normal response to extended exertion and is part of the adaptation process that the recovering muscles experience as they undergo hypertrophy or an increase in muscle size. It is common in individuals who have just started exercising, increased the duration or intensity of their workouts, or just beginning a physically demanding job.

Because the golf swing imparts significant stress on the lumbar spine it’s not surprising that low When muscle contracts as it lengthens is known as eccentric muscle contractions which increases stress in muscle fibers as they are exerted excessively. This also happens when engaging in movements the muscles are not used to, like a new exercise or helping a friend move heavy boxes, furniture, etc.

The muscle soreness you experience a day or two after a workout is called delayed-onset muscle soreness (DOMS). It’s common for experienced athletes and those who are new to fitness. The good news is that this is totally normal.  Muscle soreness usually occurs within 24 to 48 hours of any activity that you do that’s different. For example, if you run regularly but you take up a new weight training routine, expect to feel sore, it can happen to anyone who has increased the duration or intensity of a workout routine.   

DOMS is not the same thing as muscle pain experienced during exercise or caused by an injury such as a strain or sprain. Rather, it is related to increased stress in muscle fibers as you exert them excessively.  When you exercise, you create tiny tears in your muscles. As you adapt to a new routine and do it more often, the pain or discomfort will lessen. Recovering from a workout can be tough. And it’s challenging to stick to our fitness goals when we’re waddling due to stiff muscles.

Delayed symptoms include:

  • Swelling in the affected muscles.
  • Muscles feel tender to the touch.
  • Muscle fatigue.
  • Reduced range of motion and movement.
  • Pain and stiffness when moving.
  • Decreased muscle strength.

Treatment Options:

There is no one, simple way to treat delayed onset muscle soreness.  Time and waiting for the muscles to repair themselves is the natural healing process, but steps can be taken to ease the soreness, stiffness, and pain. This includes:

  • Stretching.
  • Ice/heat therapy.
  • Topical analgesics.
  • Active recovery, doing low-impact aerobic exercise right after a workout to increase blood flow to the muscles.
  • The increased blood supply can help relieve the inflammation.
  • Chiropractic care – increases the blood and nerve circulation around the muscles.

Personal experience will determine which works best for the individual. You can also follow the “RICE” technique:

When muscles are not rested due to not taking time to recover because of overtraining/working can have consequences on the body. Inflammation that is not given the time to heal can lead to further injuries.

What can you do when DOMS has you feeling stiff?

1. Ice your muscles – Ice is a pain killer and anti-inflammatory. Icing is a good first step to relieving muscle pain. Use an ice pack for about 20 minutes every three hours. Heat may relax your muscles, but it isn’t as helpful for swelling. 

2. Stay active – When you’re sore, light activity can help you loosen up tight areas.  Stretch, go for a walk or do some yoga to keep the blood flowing.

3. Massage your muscles – Using a foam roller to massage sore muscles can help with muscle soreness.

4. Drink enough water – is good advice for anyone but it’s particularly important if you are sweating it out. Drink water before, during and after your workout to help you recover effectively.

5. Take a rest day – DOMS is temporary. Keeping your movement light and giving your body time to recover may be just what you need to relieve muscle soreness. If your pain lasts more than 5 days, it might be something other than DOMS. Consider seeing a doctor or if your pain or swelling is high.

6. Stretch more – Warming up your muscles before each workout can help. Work on your range of motion so that you’re not putting pressure on cold, tight muscles. If you’re suffering major DOMS from your last workout, keep stretching in mind for the next one.

7. Have a healthy post-workout meal – Replenish your body’s fuel after working out with a snack or a meal. Carbohydrates and protein can help your muscles recover and grow stronger. Bananas, eggs and nuts are good foods to eat after a workout.


Preventing DOMS demands that you listen to your body and take notice when an exercise moves from stress into pain. That’s a sign that you’re overdoing it.

Preventing DOMS demands that you listen to your body and take notice when an exercise movPrevention also means starting your workout correctly. One of the reasons why overexertion occurs is because the muscles are tight before you start training. If they are not properly warmed up and you move straight into exercise, your muscles are less able to stretch and can become injured, sometimes seriously.  Always warm up and cool down. The cool-down helps regulate blood flow and may relieve inflammation and the build-up of lactic acid.

If you’re pushing yourself during workouts or changing the movement, duration, or intensity, it’s likely you’ll experience delayed onset muscle soreness. But as long as you’re gradually changing or increasing your exercises, DOMS should pass quickly. Practice safe movements, pay attention to your body, and recognize the difference between soreness and pain to determine how to properly adjust your fitness routine.

Dr. Phil McAllister’s Specialties:  

Stopping the PAIN!

I Specialize in Treating Severe Sciatica, Neck-Back Pain, Whiplash, Headaches, Knee Injuries, Sports Injuries, and Arthritis. We use advanced proven therapies focused on optimal Mobility, Posture Control, Integrative & Functional Medicine, and Structural Conditioning. We also integrate Specialized Chiropractic Techniques, Trigenics to treat patients suffering from various injuries and health problems.

Ultimately, I am here to serve my patients and community as a Chiropractor passionately restoring functional living through increased mobility

Purpose & Passions:

I am a Doctor of Chiropractic specializing in progressive cutting-edge therapies and functional rehabilitation procedures We focus on restoring normal body functions after neck, back, spinal, and soft tissue injuries.

As an extension to dynamic rehabilitation, we offer our patients exercises and our programs are natural and use the body’s ability to achieve specific measured goals, rather than introducing harmful chemicals, unwanted surgeries, or addictive drugs.

We want you to live a functional life that is fulfilled with more energy, a positive attitude, better sleep, and less pain. Our goal is to ultimately empower our patients to maintain the healthiest way of living. With a bit of work, we can achieve optimal health together, no matter the age, ability, or disability.

The information is not intended to provide or be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.

It is for informational purposes only.